Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 14, 2011



Seymour … what an odd name for the cat we “saw less” rather than more, but… we didn’t name him. He didn’t start out as our cat.

Seymour’s story with us began in the middle of his life. We had moved to a new neighborhood with some nice, animal-friendly neighbors. They were renters and had a dog and essentially two cats – one indoors and one outdoors. Of course we saw Seymour around their yard and asked about him… we like to know the neighborhood cats and where the belong.

Our neighbors told us the story of how Seymour came into their lives. They had previously lived at another house that had cement block walls around their back yard, and one day, there was Seymour in their back yard. They never knew if someone dumped him back there or if the little guy (he was just a bitty kitten at the time) had scaled the walls to find a safe haven. Also, there were neighborhood kids who, well, probably didn’t need access to a defenseless kitten. So our future neighbors took Seymour in and had him fixed and declawed. However, Seymour apparently had other ideas and tore up curtains and carpets and other things in an effort to get out of the house. Eventually our future neighbors complied and let him live outside. Then they moved to what eventually would be our shared neighborhood where we all met each other.

Meanwhile, Seymour is a scardey cat. Yes, we would see Seymour, but usually he was hiding behind something or dashing from one place to another. He was friendly with his human-man and the dog, but Seymour just didn’t trust anybody else. He was almost a non-event, taking care of himself and staying out of everyone’s way.

Well, one day our neighbors told us they bought a house and were moving. They were only moving two blocks away, but would be located on a busier, main road. They were concerned about taking Seymour with them because he had been at this house most of his life and they were afraid he would try to return to this house and/or get run over by a car on the busy road. Additionally, they had a pond butting up to their back yard so they were worried Seymour might just get snatched up by the resident alligator (yes, we lived in Florida at the time). So our soon-to-not-be-neighbors-anymore asked if we — being cat lovers — would take care of Seymour. No, they never took him to the vet, it was just a matter of feeding him. Hmmm.

Of course we said yes… like we would let anyone abandon a cat!

But I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to befriend this cautious guy!

Over the course of several months (fortunately their house remained empty) I had to gain Seymour’s trust and slowly lure him into our yard. It started with calling his name and shaking his kibble, and setting it down on the far side of the neighbor’s yard from my house. Then I would retreat to my house and watch until Seymour would crawl out from under a shed and come for his food. Each day I stayed a little bit closer to him, talking to him the entire time he ate. And every couple of days I would move the food dish closer to my house. If I moved it too much in one attempt or if I was too close for comfort, he wouldn’t eat. I believe it took about a month to get him eating on our back step.

Touching him, well, that wasn’t happening. I think it was another two months before I was first able to touch him. But throughout all of this, he learned that we were now the ones caring for him and we fed him like clockwork. He learned the routine and even began bringing us delights like dead birds and snakes.

Then hurricane season picked up and we became concerned for Seymour’s safety. We’d never actually had an outside cat before and well, yes, we were attached to him! He was such a sweet boy, you could just see it in his eyes. He was just really shy and cautious and who could fault a guy for that! So the decision was made we needed to trap him, get him checked out at the vet, and bring him in.

After several failed attempts and also the landfall of Hurricane Charley, we finally got Seymour trapped, vetted, and returned to our home.

We kept him in my office separate from the others. That first night, I took a book and sat on the floor to read, just to be in the room with him. And would you believe that he came right to me? At first I was a bit cautious because  I’d hardly been able to give this kitty any love or affection while he was outside (I said “touch” earlier, I never said “pet”). But he came over to me, sniffed me and my book, and proceeded to curl up next to my leg on the floor — touching me!  I couldn’t believe it!  It brought tears to my eyes!  His first night in our home he came to me like he’d been doing it all his life. What a special boy!

Seymour was a special boy.  He never figured out why the other cats liked cat grass or played with toys, and it took him a long time to understand that it was okay to get comfy on the sofa or the bed. He never meowed… he was the silent cat. And he was very well-behaved around all the others (I’ll tell you more about him and Natasha-Fuzzy some other time). And even though he eventually trusted Rob and I as much as he could possibly trust anyone… whenever someone else entered our home, he would go into hiding and stay hid. If it was a woman, it would sometimes take him a few days to be relaxed around me again. But fortunately we didn’t have a lot of visitors, so this wasn’t a problem. He was the closest thing to a feral cat we had ever dealt with up until that time, and I have to say that it was not a bad experience at all. We’re so glad we gave that boy a chance even though his previous owners said Seymour wanted to be outside and would tear up the house — we never ever saw that behavior in him. As a matter of fact, when a door to the outside of the house would open, he would run in the opposite direction! If ever a kitty wanted to be a house cat – Seymour was the one.


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